Busan 2019 Review: COMING HOME AGAIN, A Personal Chamber Piece on Food and Filial Piety

In Coming Home Again, a Korean American man returns home to take care of his dying mother in this modest and sensitively-rendered chamber piece that takes place in the span of one day on New Year’s Eve. Adapted from a...

Busan 2019 Review: LIGHT FOR THE YOUTH Conveys the Desperate Struggles of South Korea's Younger Generation

The acute hardships of South Korea’s youth and the dog-eat-dog mentality of the corporate workplace are the focus of writer-director Shin Su-won’s fourth feature, Light for the Youth. With Glass Garden (2017), Madonna (2015) and Pluto (2012), Shin’s previous films...

Busan 2019 Review: THE EDUCATION, A Life Lesson on Human Nature

In The Education, a young woman develops an unlikely relationship with a teenager when she is hired to take care of his severely disabled mother. One of three Korean features in the Busan International Film Festival’s New Currents competition section, director...

Busan 2019 Review: AN OLD LADY Addresses Elderly Rape, Ageing and Mortality

Premiering in the Busan International Film Festival’s New Currents competition section, Lim Sun-ae’s An Old Lady touches on the less-commonly addressed issue of elder sexual abuse in South Korea. A 69-year-old lady accuses a nursing assistant of rape at a...

Busan 2019 Review: KYUNGMI'S WORLD, Bleak and Unsparing Portrait of the Ties that Bind

In Kyungmi’s World, we never get to see the face of the titular Kyungmi. Instead, the main characters in the film are Soo-yeon (Kim Misu) – Kyungmi’s daughter – and her estranged grandmother Young-soon (Lee Young-ran), who reconnect for the...

Review: TOO LATE TO DIE YOUNG, Hazy, Coming-Of-Age Mood Piece of a 90s Chilean Summer

Dominga Sotomayor’s Too Late To Die Young is a coming-of-age drama that takes place during the halcyon summer of 1990 in Chile, a time when the nation was slowly emerging from the shadows of a violent military regime. Against a...

Udine 2019 Review: A FIRST FAREWELL, Tenderly Observed Drama About Uyghur Children In Xinjiang

Awarded the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus section at the 2019 Berlinale, A First Farewell is a tenderly observed and quiet drama about the day-to-day struggles of China’s Uyghur ethnic minority in the Muslim-dominated Xinjiang province.    This is...

Rotterdam 2019 Review: MAGGIE, a Wacky and Idiosyncratic Trip Down the Sinkhole

Yi Okseop’s debut film, Maggie, opens with the discovery of a salacious X-ray photograph at the Love of Maria hospital depicting an unknown couple having sex. This opening gag sets the stage for a series of randomly occurring bizarre events...

Rotterdam 2019 Review: TRANSNISTRA, Intimate, Dreamy Portrait of Youth Stuck in Time and Space

There is an ethereal, evanescent beauty to Anna Eborn's feature-length documentary Transnistra. Six teenagers casually frolic by the river banks in the heat of summer, skipping stones across the water, their silhouettes cast in the pinkish evening glow of the setting...

Rotterdam 2019 Review: In PRESENT.PERFECT., Live Streaming and Loneliness Collide

This year's Hivos Tiger Competition winner at the 2019 International Film Festival Rotterdam looks at the phenomenon of live streaming in contemporary Chinese society.

Review: THE SWAN, a Lyrical and Sobering Look at Adulthood Through a Child's Eyes

A wilful young girl sent to work on a farm in rural Iceland – a waning traditional Icelandic practice to instill independence in children – uncovers some uncomfortable real-world truths in The Swan (Svanurinn), Ása Helga Hjörleifsdóttir’s serious-in-tone coming-of-age drama...

Udine 2018 Review: THE NAME, an Odd but Curiously Absorbing Japanese Indie

There is more than meets the eye in Toda Akihiro’s The Name, an odd but curiously absorbing mystery drama that appears deceptively simple from the outset. Within its modest trappings, this Japanese indie raises some thoughtful existential questions about personal...

Udine 2018 Review: THE SCYTHIAN LAMB, A Bizarre Genre Hybrid Infused with Kaiju Folklore

In the sleepy coastal town of Uobuka, the statue of a googly-eyed green sea monster named Nororo towers over a precipice. According to legend, Nororo is an evil presence from the sea and whoever looks into its eyes will be...

Rotterdam 2018 Review: SWEATING THE SMALL STUFF, an Uncompromising Character Study of a Flawed Man

When it comes to passive heroes, perhaps none could be more than Ryutaro, the protagonist (and director of the same name) of Sweating the Small Stuff. Ryutaro, 27 years of age, lives alone in a messy apartment piled high with...

Rotterdam 2018 Review: I HAVE A DATE WITH SPRING, a Playful Tragicomic Ensemble Drama about The End Of The World

Do not be fooled by the outwardly cheery title of Baek Seung-bin’s I Have A Date With Spring – the film is actually about individuals whose birthdays fall one day before doomsday.   For a country like South Korea, which...

Rotterdam 2018 Review: THE RETURN, a Poignant and Authentic Tale of Korean Adoptees Returning Home

Ever since the end of the Korean War in 1953, South Korea has earned a name as one of the largest exporters of babies worldwide. Over 200,000 infants have been put up for adoption and sent overseas, mainly to Europe...

Rotterdam 2018 Review: THE HEART, a Trendy Millennial Drama Celebrating Female Sexuality and Independence

The heart wants what it wants, but does not get – this is the premise of Swedish actress-director Fanni Metelius’s debut The Heart (Hjartat), about a young photographer Mika and her musician boyfriend Tesfay who are madly in love, yet...